Local Identities

The McAndrews of Wedderburn

By Heather Wade, 2019

‘Wedderburn’, purchased in 1842 as part of the Western Australian Company scheme, is situated on the South West Highway south of Brunswick. It is a well-known property that has been in the ownership of just four families over a period of more than 170 years.

During that time the owners have been Dr John Ferguson, Alexander McAndrew, Edwin Rose, then Albert Jesse Talbot (known as Tommy) and later, his descendants. Nothing remains of the original cottage, built in a hollow on the property by Dr Ferguson. The present substantial Wedderburn Homestead was built by Edwin Rose following his purchase of the property in 1898. Tommy Talbot purchased Wedderburn in 1923[1], and his son, Thomas Haldane Talbot, undertook renovations in 1952. The homestead is currently occupied by a fourth generation of the Talbot family.

Of these Alexander (Sandy) McAndrew is mentioned little in the history books. McAndrew did not marry and have offspring to carry on the name or continue pioneering in Western Australia. His name seldom appears in newspapers, in contrast to Ferguson, who became WA’s Colonial Surgeon in 1846, Edwin Rose, a pastoralist, farmer and Member of Parliament or Tommy Talbot, farmer, pastoralist, hotelier and gold discoverer.

An article in the Southern Times, 4 June 1898 gave a summary of Alexander’s life and included information about his brother, James:

On Thursday last two of the oldest settlers of the district left Bunbury en route for Scotland per the German mail steamer Stuttgart which sailed from Fremantle on Thursday—the Messrs. Alexander and James McAndrew, the former of whom came to the colony with Dr. Ferguson more than 50 years ago. Dr. Ferguson settled at ‘Wedderburn’, which was then in a state of nature. In a few years by dint of hard work and perseverance, he erected a good house, which is still standing, and cleared and cultivated a considerable quantity of land and planted a garden, etc. He was then appointed Colonial Surgeon and removed to Perth.

About two years after his appointment to this position Mr. A. McAndrew purchased the estate, which he held for about 46 years until he sold it to Mr. Edwin Rose at the commencement of the present year. Mr. A. McAndrew resided on the estate from the time that he purchased it until the past few years when it has been let to tenants. The greater part of his life has been devoted to the raising of sheep in which he was pre-eminently successful and he always managed to obtain top prices for fat and surplus stock. His brother James joined him about 30 years ago, and has been with him ever since, with the exception of a short time when he re-visited the old country. We understand that neither of the brothers has any intention of returning to this colony.

Four months later there was an obituary for Alexander McAndrew:

Another very old resident of the district, Mr. Alexander McAndrew, has passed away at the ripe age of 83 years. He left Bunbury with his brother James on a visit to his old home in Scotland, about five months ago, where he died on the 15th of last month. The deceased came to this colony in the ship Trusty in 1842, the same vessel which brought Mr. William Forrest, the father of the Premier, to the colony, and about 35 years ago purchased the Wedderburn farm from Dr. Ferguson. He was joined by his brother and his brother’s wife about 25 years ago, but the latter remained only a few years and then returned home but was induced to come to W.A. again when the deceased paid his first visit to Scotland 15 years ago. As he was getting too old to attend to farm work he sold Wedderburn to Mr. Edwin Rose, about nine months ago, and left for Scotland to end his days in his old home.[2]

These articles gave a broad outline of the lives of the McAndrew brothers but further research shows that there are some inaccuracies in the above articles. These include the number of years that McAndrew owned the property, the number of years that he resided there as owner and the timing of Edwin Rose’s ownership.

Alexander McAndrew was christened on 25 June 1817 at Cortachy and Clova, Angus, Scotland and was the son of Charles McAndrew and Ann Howe.[3] He was one of at least seven children. In the 1841 Scottish Census he was living with his family at Wester Egga, Cortachy and Clova, Angus, and working as an agricultural labourer, as was his brother William. James was 10 so he would have been at school.[4] The father’s occupation is not listed but on Alexander’s death certificate Charles was described as a farmer. Scotsman, Dr John Ferguson, sailed on the Trusty with his family to Australind in 1842 with the intent of becoming a farmer. With him came two indentured servants – shepherd, Alexander McAndrew and miller/engineer William Forrest, future father of John Forrest, explorer, statesman and WA’s first Premier. Ferguson named his property ‘Wedderburn’ and during his tenure his interests in the farm seem to have been supervised by George Smith while the work on the land may have been carried on by Alexander McAndrew.[5]

It is difficult to accurately pinpoint McAndrew’s whereabouts until 1860 when he took up residence as the owner at ‘Wedderburn’. He is not specifically listed there in 1844 – ‘John Ferguson was at “Wedderburn” with his wife and two children and had living with him Henry Day (or Dey) and three servants, probably male; nine people in all.’[6]

However, in 1845 McAndrew’s movements were recorded more accurately as Marshall Waller Clifton wrote in his diary that on 3 June 1845 he ‘offered to take the Dr’s man Sandy [McAndrew] as My Shepherd & gave him the Wages He asked viz. £36 per anm.’[7]

On 17 July 1845 Clifton wrote, ‘Alexr McAndrew came to me this Day as Shepherd at £36 pounds per Month [annum?]. To take charge of the Sheep tomorrow’.[8] The next day the sheep were counted and put in McAndrew’s charge. Diary entries in 1846 tell of sheep taken to ‘Runnymede’ by McAndrew and Hooper, Quinn assisting Sandy with lambing, MW Clifton and Hooper meeting Sandy on the Wellesley, provisions being sent to Sandy and Sandy returning to ‘Runnymede’.

Dr Ferguson was appointed Colonial Surgeon in 1846 and moved to Perth where he was better able to provide for his family. An advertisement in the Inquirer on 23 September, 1846 sought workers for ‘Wedderburn’.

To Farm Servants. WANTED immediately, at Wedderburn, near Australind, a man and his wife to act as farm servants. For terms and particulars apply to Mr. Johnston, on the farm; or Mr. Ferguson, Colonial Surgeon, Perth.

N. B. — No persons having a large family need apply.

In his diaries, MW Clifton wrote that on 7 July 1847 Sandy went up to Perth and returned on 15 July. In 1851 and 1859 McAndrew was running sheep of his own. Further proof is found in the Government Gazette of Tuesday 11 February 1851 which advised that a Depasturing Licence of 6,000 acres had been granted to McAndrew in the Wellington District and he was also granted a Dog Licence for the Bunbury District.[9]

AC Staples is of the opinion that ‘Sandy McAndrew, in the forties a shepherd to John Ferguson, Waller Clifton and possibly others, came the closest to a purely pastoral way of life, following his sheep over pasture on land owned by other farmers or by the Government but leased to him for a short term.’[10]

Dates vary in the newspaper reports of 1898 as to when McAndrew purchased the property, but AC Staples states ‘The successor to Ferguson on “Wedderburn” was quite clearly Alexander MacAndrew who purchased the property in 1855, which probably means that the two men had clinched the deal some years before.’[11] ‘It seems that MacAndrew was not willing to enter into occupation immediately – possibly he already had a well-paying job which he wished to retain for some years. So at the time of the sale, [Mrs] Rose and [Thomas] Hayward bought the lease of the property for five years, apparently in the name of Hayward.’[12] Mrs Rose and her son Charles later moved to Wilgarrup, which left Thomas Hayward at Wedderburn until the lease expired.

Although the Fergusons lived in Perth and Sandy may not have had a permanent abode it appears that the two parties maintained contact. In 1856 while on a two year extended visit to Scotland to cater for her children’s education, Isabella Ferguson wrote the following to her husband who had remained in Perth, WA, for work:

… that a sister of Sandy’s [McAndrew] called for me, she lives with her husband at Newtyle, it is not unlikely his youngest sister may come out with me.  I have promised if she does to take her as a servant for one month after her arrival that she may not be without a place to go until Sandy comes up for her, but perhaps it may be all talk on her part.[13]

Staples explains the district’s agricultural practices in the early years of two Brunswick land holders, as follows:

David Eedle of Frogmore selected a (sheep) run of 20,000 acres, No. 725B in the beautiful hilly country south of Donnybrook, 20 miles directly south of Brunswick. It is not altogether fanciful to suppose that he was operating in some sort of partnership with his friend Alexander MacAndrew who had recently acquired the title to Wedderburn from John Ferguson, but had immediately leased it to Thomas Hayward and Mrs Rose. McAndrew’s name appears occasionally in the lease lists as an applicant for leases Nos 83 and 185 in the region between Bunbury and Busselton, near Capel. The two men, Eedle and MacAndrew would have had a four-point grazing set up, Frogmore, Wedderburn, Donnybrook and Capel, on a variety of soil types. When Hayward left Wedderburn for Bundidup in 1860 McAndrew returned to his farm; already he had changed his selection of leased country from the Capel area to 4,000 on the east bank of the Lake Preston near Ephraim Clarke at Hampden.[14]

Now living at ‘Wedderburn’ during the 1860s, Alexander received prizes for pens of wethers, ewes and lambs at Bunbury Shows held in November /December.

Between 1863 and 1876 he employed 17 ticket-of-leave men.[15] The following examples show very short-term employment for the ticket-of-leavers but he must have had other long-term employees, either free or bond, to improve his property at ‘Wedderburn’ and look after the sheep on his large pastoral leases.

16 June 1863 – 24 Aug. 1863, Michael Flynn (No. 6170), shepherd at 30/- per month.[16]

12 Aug 1863 – 31 Aug 1863, Michael Daniels (No. 5953), labourer, 30/- per month.[17]

14 Nov. 1865 – 31 Dec 1865, James Gardner (No. 6304), labourer at 40/- per month and then 31 Dec. 1865 employed as a shepherd at 60/- per month.[18]

10 Oct. 1868 – 26 Nov 1868, John Phillips alias Thomas Smith (No. 4828), labourer, 20/- per month.[19]

20 Apr. 1870 – 4 May 1870, John Gill (No. 2622), shepherd at 25/- per month.[20]

His younger brother James Watt McAndrew and his new wife left Scotland in 1865 and joined Sandy at ‘Wedderburn’. Three children were born during the 1870s but the family returned to Scotland in 1880. However James returned to ‘Wedderburn’ in March 1886, leaving his family in Scotland.

Newspaper records in the 1870s tell us that Sandy McAndrew was granted a cart license in 1876 and that the Charlotte Padbury transported 86 bales and 4,587 pounds of McAndrew’s wool to London.[21] From 1873 to 1876 Sandy is listed in the Herald Almanack and WA Almanack as a sheep owner and then as a farmer from 1877 to 1882 while brother James was listed as a farmer from 1877 to 1882.[22]

During the 1890s there were more references to Sandy due to the establishment of local newspapers. In 1894 he was one of many petitioning Harry Venn to nominate as a candidate for the Legislative Assembly.[23] He was a member of the newly formed Brunswick Farmers’ Association. From time to time he advertised that he had strays on his property and would sell them if they were not claimed.

An interesting but confusing court case took place in Bunbury in April 1891 when McAndrew took RH Rose, jnr, to court claiming that Rose had not paid the £50 annual rent on the property. As there were no written agreements, the Chairman, Mr Lovegrove summed the case up thus:

we wish to cast no reflection on either plaintiff or defendant at the same time we have to say that the evidence has been conflicting and unsatisfactory. Looking at the facts we find that the paddocks were occupied by Rose’s cattle and that he sowed and reaped crops off the farm and we also believe that McAndrew had no right or interest in them which are the defendant’s property. The defendant has sworn that he rented the whole of the farm or property whereas plaintiff as a matter of fact occupied and kept possession of a large portion of it for his own use. We give judgment for the plaintiff in the sum of £25 and costs.[24]

Staples tells us that when David Eedle, McAndrew’s neighbour and friend died in 1894, the ‘Wedderburn’ property was being maintained by two elderly McAndrew brothers whose working life had ended.[25] This probably indicates that the property was being leased or tenanted. The 1895 Post Office Directory lists Alexander McAndrew living in Bunbury.

Alexander and James left Fremantle on the Stuttgart on 2 June and arrived in London on 1 August 1898, both described themselves as shepherds on the Nordland passenger list.[26]  Sandy died in Newtyle, Angus, Scotland on 15 September 1898, less than two months after his arrival in Britain. James was present at his death and was the Informant. Alexander’s cause of death was described as ‘softening of the brain’ which he had for two years.[27]

Although the newspaper articles indicate that Edwin Rose had purchased ‘Wedderburn’ before the departure of the two elderly gents, the following ‘For Sale’ notice appeared in the Southern Times, 6 June 1898.


Containing 1,300 ACRES of some of the Richest Agricultural and Grazing Land in the SOUTHERN DISTRICTS. Well-watered, and enclosed by a ring fence, and sub-divided into paddocks. About 120 acres now under cultivation and this could be largely increased. Also dwelling house, dam and other outbuildings. It is distant only one mile from the Brunswick Station, Post and Telegraph Office, and two miles from the Collie [Roelands] Station. With the above will also be sold the pastoral lease of 12,000 acres near the coast. Further particulars can be had on application to—THOMAS HAYWARD & SON, Bunbury.

When Probate was granted in March 1899 Alexander McAndrew’s estate was valued at £3,246 11s. 2d.[28] In his Will, Sandy appointed James McAndrew and Thomas Hayward as Executors. He assigned the distribution of his assets to:

  • his brother, James McAndrew £750 and any rents and income arising from his property until it was sold; £50 to Agnes McAndrew, James’ wife.
  • his sister, Ann McAndrew; and his nephew George McAndrew, son of James – equal shares of the £700 in bank accounts.
  • the children of his deceased brothers and sisters were to have the rest divided between them.

Edwin Rose had purchased ‘Wedderburn’ and still owed £2,500.


James McAndrew

Alexander’s brother, James Watt McAndrew was born and baptised at Cortachy and Clova in July 1827.[29]

In the 1841 Scottish Census, aged 10, he was living with the family at Wester Egga. In the 1861C he was living at Crossbog Park Gamekeeper’s house, Cortachy & Clova with his sister Isabella, (a domestic servant aged 38) and working as a gamekeeper. James married Agnes Watson on 6 April 1865 at Kirriemuir, Angus, Scotland.[30] They were assisted emigrants to Western Australia on the Palestine which left London on 15 April 1865[31] and arrived at Fremantle where they boarded the Wild Wave for Bunbury on 28 July, 1865.[32] James and Agnes were members of the Bunbury Congregational Church.[33] James, calling himself a farmer and flock owner at Australind, petitioned with many others for Governor John Stephen Hampton’s tenure to be extended in July 1867.[34]

A son, William Alexander McAndrew, was born at ‘Wedderburn’ and was baptised in Bunbury 11 May 1870[35] but died aged seven weeks and was buried at the Australind Cemetery. Another son, George Lindsay Watt McAndrew, was born in Geelong, Victoria in 1872.[36] The family returned to WA in February 1873 and a daughter, Elizabeth was born at ‘Wedderburn’ and baptised in Bunbury on 2 September 1873.[37] Mr & Mrs McAndrew with Master and Miss McAndrew departed Fremantle in January 1880 for London on board the Chalgrove[38] but sadly, Elizabeth died of inflammation of the lungs on the voyage.[39] In the 1881 Scottish Census the family was living in Belmont St, Newtyle, and James’ occupation was listed as a retired farmer.

James returned to ‘Wedderburn’ in March 1886.[40] During his time in Western Australia, he was only mentioned a few times in the newspapers – in 1879 in Bunbury he was a witness, in company with Henry King and Charles Hastie, to an intoxicated John Bishop riding his horse near Mr Spencer’s store in Arthur Street.[41] In 1893 the Wellington Roads Board received an application from him along with three others for the office of supervisor, (of what is not made clear) but the discussion was adjourned and there was no further mention of him.[42]

James reached London with his brother, Sandy, in August 1898 and was present in September at Sandy’s death in Scotland. In the 1901 Scottish census James was living with Agnes at Richmond Place, Mains, Angus as a retired farmer. James died in December 1910 aged 85 at 13 Kirkton Road, Downfield, Mains & Strathmartine, Angus, of senile decay and syncope. His occupation was described as a sheep farmer. His daughter-in-law, Elizabeth McAndrew who lived in Leith was the Informant.[43] James wrote his Will as a very frail man and left his estate to his wife Agnes[44] which was worth £158/15/10.[45]

Agnes McAndrew née Watson

Agnes Watson was born in about 1837 in Pittenweem, Fifeshire, Scotland, the daughter of David Watson, a fisherman and Agnes Hughes. She married James in 1865 and migrated to Western Australia. They had three children, one dying as a baby. She returned to Scotland with her family in 1880 but the daughter died during the voyage. In the 1881Scottish Census she was living in Belmont Street, Newtyle with James, her husband and son George who was nine years old. In 1891 she was living on her own in South Street, Newtyle, and in 1901 she was living with James in Mains, Angus. In the 1911 census Agnes was living on her own at 13 Kirkton Road, Downfield, Mains and Strathfield. She died there in 1914 and the informant was her daughter-in-law, Elizabeth McAndrew who was living in Leith.[46] Agnes wrote a Will and left her estate to be used for the upbringing and maintenance of her granddaughter, Agnes McAndrew, with the residue given to her at 21 years of age. However if Agnes, jnr, died beforehand, the money was to go to Elizabeth McAndrew, Agnes, snr’s daughter-in-law.[47] Her estate was worth of £102/10/11.[48] The Scotland Valuation Rolls of 1885, 1895 and 1905 show the family as tenants.

George McAndrew

In 1891 Census George McAndrew, James and Agnes’s son, was a fitter/mechanic and was a boarder at Liff and Benvie. In the 1901 census he was a mechanical engineer, living with his wife Elizabeth and daughter Agnes aged 2, in Johnstone, Renfrewshire. He died there in 1906 aged 34 of pneumonia.[49]

[1] Bunbury Herald and Blackwood Express, 11 May 1923.

[2] Bunbury Herald, 25 Oct 1898.

[3] Scotland Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950, FamilySearch.org

[4] Ancestry.com. 1841 Scotland Census.

[5] AC Staples, They Made Their Destiny – History of Settlement of the Shire of Harvey 1829 – 1929, Shire of Harvey, Bunbury, Western Australia, 1979, p. 101.

[6] AC Staples, They Made Their Destiny, p. 88.

[7] Phyllis Barnes et al, (Eds.), The Australind Journals of Marshall Waller Clifton 1840-1861, Hesperian Press, Victoria Park, WA, 2010.

[8] Phyllis Barnes et al, (Eds.), The Australind Journals of Marshall Waller Clifton

[9] Perth Gazette and Independent Journal of Politics and News, 21 Feb 1851.

[10] AC Staples, They Made Their Destiny, p. 175.

[11] AC Staples, They Made Their Destiny, p. 121.

[12] AC Staples, They Made Their Destiny, p. 129.

[13] Prue Joske, Dearest Isabella: the life and letters of Isabella Ferguson 1819 – 1910, UWA Press, Perth, WA, p. 93.

[14] AC Staples, They Made Their Destiny, p. 173.

[15] http://www.friendsofbattyelibrary.org.au/files/M.pdf, accessed 11 May 2018.

[16] Ancestry.com., Western Australia, Australia, Convict Records, 1846-1930.

[17] Ancestry.com., Western Australia, Australia, Convict Records, 1846-1930.

[18] Brian Rose, Convict Indexes, unpublished.

[19] Ancestry.com. Western Australia, Australia, Convict Records, 1846-1930.

[20] Brian Rose, Convict Indexes, unpublished.

[21] Western Australian Times, 16 January, 1877.

[22] People in the Colony of Western Australia 1863-1889, https://www.carnamah.com.au/WA-directories, accessed 11 May 2018.

[23] Bunbury Herald, 21 March 1894.

[24] Southern Times, 20 Apr 1891.

[25] AC Staples, They Made Their Destiny, p. 257.

[26] Ancestry.com., UK, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960.

[27] 1898, McAndrew Alexander, Statutory Registers Deaths 314/11, https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/

[28] West Australian, 3 Mar 1899.

[29] FamilySearch, Scotland Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950.

[30] Ancestry.com., Scotland, Select Marriages, 1561-1910.

[31] Ancestry.com., Western Australia, Australia, Convict Records, 1846-1930.

[32] Inquirer & Commercial News, 2 August 1865.

[33] Battye Library, Acc. No. 3157A – MN 257, Preaching Journals, Revd. Andrew Buchanan, 1860s.

[34] Independent and Commercial News, 31 July 1867.

[35] Ancestry.com., Australia, Births and Baptisms, 1792-1981.

[36] Ancestry.com., Australia, Birth Index, 1788-1922.

[37] Ancestry.com., Australia, Births and Baptisms, 1792-1981.

[38] West Australian, 9 January 1880.

[39] Ancestry.com., UK, Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths at Sea, 1844-1890. NB the death is incorrectly recorded as Agnes McAndrew.

[40]Ancestry.com., Western Australia, Australia, Crew and Passenger Lists, 1852-1930.

[41] The Herald (Fremantle), 27 September 1879.

[42] Bunbury Herald, 1 March 1893.

[43] 1910, McAndrew, James Watt Statutory Registers Deaths 307/68, https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/

[44] 1910, MacAndrew, James Watt (Wills and testaments, reference SC45/31/20, Dundee Sheriff Court Wills), https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/

[45] 1910, MacAndrew, James Watt (Wills and testaments Reference SC45/31/67 Dundee Sheriff Court), https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/

[46] 1914, McAndrew, Agnes Statutory Register Deaths 307/2, https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/

[47] 1914, MacAndrew, Agnes (Wills and testaments Reference SC45/34/27 Dundee Sheriff Court Wills), https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/

[48] 1914, MacAndrew, Agnes (Wills and testaments Reference SC45/31/74, Dundee Sheriff Court) https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/

[49] 1906, McAndrew, George, Statutory Registers Deaths 573/2 217, https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/